Thursday, September 22, 2011

Loss of Librarian Would Be Big for Paper

A reporter at a local daily in Roanoke passed along concerns that one of the people whose job might be in jeopardy with the proposed buyout of employees at least 55 years old and with 20 years' experience is Belinda Harris, the librarian. Let me call her "the beloved" Belinda Harris.

She has been a quiet and enormously valuable newspaper resource since I was there in the early 1980s and maybe as far back as the late 1970s. You see references to her as a researcher at the end of some of the most important stories the paper runs. She is the very exemplification of the kind of community and institutional memory that no organization can afford to lose and my guess is that the only people who truly appreciate her are the ones who work with her and know exactly what she does and how valuable it is.

I hope to god that in this latest sweep somebody has the presence of mind to exempt her. The blow to the paper with her loss would be huge. It would be like the loss of Karen Trout from the editorial department a few years ago under the same circumstances. The department is still trying to figure out how to operate without Karen. Sometimes these unseen people--unseen by outsiders; certainly seen from the inside--hold everything together and they certainly improve the product.

You can go through these newsroom pictures and pretty well get an idea of who's job is in jeopardy (reporter Cody Lowe is one I didn't mention earlier, and I suspect Cody's close to the 55/20), but Belinda's photo is not in there among those in news. Her photo certainly should be. Of course, these pictures do not anywhere near represent the majority of the more than 350 employees in the building, either, but they're the names you know and the people responsible for the reason some still buy the paper.

1 comment:

  1. The RT won't survive if Belinda leaves. Period. She should be getting triple the pay that does get!